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Margaret Powling

I remember ordering Mary Wesley's first novel even before it was published. There was a piece about her in the paper, about her publishing her 1st novel in relatively 'old age', but then, she had been a writer for many years and had published a couple of children's stories as well as sometimes writing her journalist husband's copy when he wasn't, for whatever reason, able to do so. I loved her first novel, Jumping the Queue, a novel quite different from anything I'd read and found that this elderly woman had a very strong writing voice.
Years later I was one of the last people to interview her, in her cottage in Devon. Her reputation - of not suffering fools gladly - went before her, but I found her extremely polite and welcoming, making me coffee in her kitchen before we settled either side of the fireplace in her sitting room for a short interview. I have very warm memories of Mary who, when I arrived at her cottage, was brandishing a pump-action water pistol to keep marauding cats away from the birds she loved. Yes, a remarkable woman and a very good novelist.


What a wonderful story. I think you sent me a scan of that interview--will need to go into my email and dig it out now! I think it's cool that she didn't begin publishing novels for adults until later in life and she did it so successfully--I find that so admirable! Did she live in Devon? I guess I will find out all the details as soon as I begin reading the bio. I am now more tempted than ever to pick up a book and start reading (or rereading as the case may be!).


There are many reasons why I enjoy your posts so much, Danielle; that I easily identify with your book buying "condition" is but one. I had to smile knowingly at this:

"Sometimes I think books follow me about begging me to buy them (it's always the books' fault and never my own). I always take pity on them and do so. Is it good or bad when even books in the supermarket start sounding good? . . . "

I have, right now, a bag of books to take to one of my preferred used book stores, and a new pile, to augment the others already teetering. I'm just holding back on going to the book store as I know I will come back with a few followers. :)

Lovely post - and I enjoyed Cath's of your previous post. (Still here, still reading you, just in a bit of a busy time).


I love Mary Wesley, I've read all of her books and particularly loved Camomile Lawn--so then I had to watch the video made from it and quite liked it too.
I hesitate to read biographies of people I care about, knowing too much about them effects my feelings towards their books.


Thank you so much Penny, it was a pleasure to be invited by Danielle to write one.


Books popping up like mushrooms in a soggy lawn, I think that's really funny Danielle.
At the same time I am amazed at your ability to manage them all.


I am trying a new tactic. If a book comes in (purchased) another must go out. So far I'm not doing all that well but managed to give away 6. However I think I've actually bought more than six and on top of that I'm feeling pangs of remorse and separation anxiety. They went to a good home, where they will be taken care of. Nevertheless, I feel as though I've wrapped them in a baby blanket and left them at the doorstep in a basket. P.S. I have Bittersweet on hold at the library. Should be available in the next couple of weeks.


I think you may have more books on your shelves than my library. :) I always like seeing what you've bought and what you're going to read next. I've gotten a lot of good book titles just from reading your blog. (And if you ever decide to give out library cards to your library let me know.)

Margaret Powling

To reply to Danielle, yes, Mary Wesley lived in Devon, in Totnes, in a cottage behind the high street. It was strange because at the front of her cottage, facing the High Street, was a 2nd hand bookshop, the owner himself with the name of Wesley (Mary's real name was Wellesley, related to the Dukes of Wellington, and her married name was Siepmann) and people often took them as being related when they weren't. She was often to be seen darting into and out of shops, keeping a low a profile as ever so as not to be bearded by her adoring fans. The locals respected her wish for anonymity of course.

Grad: I've tried the one-book-in-one-book-out regime but it was very short lived!


Even if you only buy one or two new books at a time it is amazing how fast the pile grows! James and I usually take turns and the most recent 5 book splurge was his. Of course I am wondering how long I need to wait before I can have my turn at a splurge!

Joan Kyler

We know just how you feel, Danielle! I love how you compare yourself to a bad hostess, ignoring your guests, and how you liken your growing TBR piles to mushroom on a soggy lawn. You're quite a descriptive writer.


It's such a busy time of year, isn't it! I find myself online a little less, too. There are just too many things I want to do and that need to get done and never enough time to do it all. I have a box of books waiting to go to the used bookstore, too, and hope to add to it. Not that it will do much in the way to make room for other books--I seem to have reached piles of epic proportions, but even giving away or selling a few will make me feel a little less bad that I keep adding new ones....


I'm so happy that it worked out that you were able to post with me this first week--so much more special! And I do hope that it will work out that you will later be able to do so again. :)


I know exactly what you mean. I love Daphne du Maurier but she was a complex and complicated woman and when I read a bio of her (which was mostly very generous and positive) it still made me feel a little weird. As long as the biographer is not setting out to be excessively critical--sometimes I wonder if the writer even likes their subject. I love Mary Wesley, too, and I think the Camomile Lawn is my favorite of those I have read. I might still have a few unread books on my shelves. I think at some point I am going to cave in and pull out a book to read/reread!


I think that image is in mind as it has been really wet here lately and indeed mushrooms have been popping up on my lawn! ;) I sometimes think I am not managing my books very well at all, and that sometimes they are actually managing me!


I like that idea--but considering the rate I sometimes accumulate them (at least if I go to my favorite used bookstore), I am not sure I would be able to part with an equal number of books. Still, it is a good way of managing those stacks I think. What is sad is when I buy a book only to bring it home and discover that I already own a copy.... Or being excited about reading a book I know I own, but not being able to find it in the mess that is my book room. There are so many very tall piles about that shifting and sorting and looking becomes a huge undertaking and then I end up trying to find a library copy to borrow--oh dear! It is nice to think of a book finding a new home and maybe a second (or third...) life. Bittersweet sits on my bed right now...must get to it soon as I hear the clock ticking away towards that due date.


The scary thing is, I thin you could possibly be right. My book piles have really gotten out of hand and even I can't seem to control them these days. I am so happy to hear you have found some good things to read from my posts--I am always happy to send good books other readers' way. And I probably could start my own mini lending library. Maybe I should create one of those little library houses out front in my could be fun and I could totally stock it with books for months and months....


That's really interesting. And nice that she was left to live in peace and quiet without people bothering her. I think Devon must be a really gorgeous place (certainly from your photos you have emailed me it seems so) as there are a number of writers who live or have lived there (and isn't there an artists colony in the area, too?). Maybe someday I will get to visit--I know I have long wanted to!


Goodness--I had never thought of living with another reader who is as enthusiastic as me. Our house would be overfilled with books--it's bad enough already! But very cool, too, to live with someone who Understands! :) My problem is I can't seem to read a book and then recycle it--rather I read it and then it opens a new doorway and I have to buy three new books--something else by the author, something the author has written about or a book just like the one I've read.... It's almost exhausting to think about!


Only when it comes to books, I think! :) I'm not so creative otherwise, but you know I really do Love my books! It is somehow easy to write about them. I probably spend more time thinking about books than anything else...


I haven't read Mary Wesley yet but I bought greedily one or two books and the biography you've got as well as it all sounded so great.
You've got a nice list here. Hugger-Mugger. Haha. Such a funny title.


She is really wonderful and I pulled out one of her books from my shelves for a reread, but I am trying to not dive in just yet as I have too many others going and am in the middle of quite enough stories as it is. I like that she didn't start writing these novels until she was in her 70s I believe! The bio looks interesting, too. Isn't that a wild title--I couldn't pass it up, plus a French setting, how can you miss?

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